Looking ahead: What's next for the Bucs at quarterback?
Over the coming days, we’ll take an analytical look at some of the pressing issues that have arisen now that the 2012 Bucs season is over.
Here, let’s look at the situation at quarterback. Things got interesting on Monday when coach Greg Schiano on one hand said Freeman is capable of winning Super Bowl titles, only to follow up by saying his intention is to add competition at the position. Schiano also said he needed step back and evaluate Freeman’s performance a bit more.
If the statement sounds a little contradictory, then you see it the same way I saw it. But what about the substance of what Schiano said?
For starters, Schiano is right in at least one regard: Competition is a good thing. But here’s some advice to fans: Keep your expectations in check. The Bucs are very unlikely to attract a proven starter to compete with Freeman. Despite his struggles, he threw for more than 4,000 yards and 27 touchdowns. The likes of Alex Smith or Michael Vick are not going to want to compete with that and would sign elsewhere as free agents. There are plenty of teams out there with much worse quarterback situations than Tampa Bay.
A trade for another quarterback is always possible, but how much would be the Bucs really be willing to give up for a quarterback who might never be their starter?
The draft is realistic option to address the position. But with more pressing needs, the Bucs aren’t likely to invest an early pick in a quarterback. And unless this poor class of quarterbacks contains the next Russell Wilson – a third-round pick by the Seahawks – the odds of finding a gem are slim.
All this is a very long way of saying that it’s extremely doubtful the Bucs will have a different starting quarterback 2013. Even though Schiano seemed somewhat noncommittal, he and the front office are well aware of these realities and know that Freeman probably gives them the best shot to win.
Now, here’s another issue: Freeman’s contract expires after the 2013 season, and the organization has been weighing whether to extend his deal now or later.
Do not expect anything to happen on this front. It’s the position of the front office to wait and see, rather than rushing into a premature decision. Even if Freeman and the team can’t come to an agreement after the 2013 season – assuming both sides want to continue together – the team could still employ the franchise tag and retain his services for 2014.
With a number of other positions to address, it seems the Bucs will use their 2013 cap dollars on more immediate needs.